Client: La Parti Productions
Shoot: Nowhere Man
Director Patrice Toye
DOP: Richard van Oosterhout
Location: Barbuda

Patsy White from Caribbean Crews worked with the Dutch Art Department on the production ?Nowhere Man? a feature film shot on the island of Barbuda.

Their brief: take a derelict house and turn it into a derelict bar.

Here she tells the story...

"I stared at the pictures sent from the production team in Holland. The yellowing stone house on the Island of Barbuda hadn?t been lived in for years. Thorn trees and bushes overran the doors and windows. And, a huge branch thrust its way over the gate. The front door was hanging off its hinges like a drunk and the closed shutters held onto the secrets within.

The actual house was worse than the pictures. We approached the house from the back, forcing the back door into the kitchen. The smell of mice made my eyes water; mice, rats and spiders had invaded and there was a bee swarm. But, at least the concrete floor here made it safer than the wooden floors in the rest of the house.

With the shutters open the true extent of the job became clear. Most of the roof was gone, pools of water and rotting debris swamped the floors. Beds, filthy old mattresses and linen provided a nursery for the mice and everywhere we went dusty spider webs filtered the light and stuck to our sweaty faces.

But this sad old house had all the elements we needed and would make the perfect setting where our hero could place his treasures and memories. As we cleaned we found our own treasures: a hand-blocked wall decoration of delicate flowers, an ornate but broken wooden chair, a tiny mouse skeleton, a deep well with sweet water.

After the Director and DOP inspected our spruced up but still derelict house, we tore out the interior to build the bar, cleared space to give a clean line to shoot, matched the paintwork to the existing aged look and re-created the cobwebs. We furnished the house with several visits to the island dump where we found a wonderful decrepit armchair, broken tables and chairs. We challenged our local carpenters to age bar stools with paint effects and forget their training school rules and make them wobble dangerously. We made a bar which we then whacked, banged and damaged and painted to make it look as old as the building.

Insects were an integral part of the story and we needed a lot. So we offered the children of the local school a special prize and a donation to the school's library for the best insect. During this week of construction we had a constant tide of children calling to bring in some pretty scary specimens: insects of every kind, crabs as big as my hand, lizards caught with knotted grass, frogs, toads, bats and tortoises.

We had to call a halt after a couple of days and awarded a huge bag of sweets to the kids and some great books about the natural world for their library. It had all worked far too well. We kept the bounty alive in the bath and every day we fed and watered the captives until they were needed on camera. Luckily most of the ?insect? scenes were cut and we could let most of them go.

Of course, as is usual in shoots, only half of our hard work ever made it to film, much was dropped on the cutting floor. But we managed to give the essence of a derelict building that became the centre of the story and had a great deal of fun in doing it."

Pictures by Mohammed Walbrook